Landlords find unprecedented ways to innovate to keep Canada’s top malls thriving - Retail Council of Canada

Landlords find unprecedented ways to innovate to keep Canada’s top malls thriving

January 16, 2020

Study finds future brick and mortar retail malls will become both “experiential” and integrated “live, work, play and shop” developments to attract customers to stores.

Changes in Canada’s retail landscape and strong competition from online retailers have unlocked exciting new opportunities for enterprising mall owners to add value, build traffic and create remarkable experiences.

The fourth annual study by Retail Council of Canada (RCC) shows that brick and mortar retail continues to thrive at the mall. The 2019 Canadian Shopping Centre Study analyzes Canada’s top shopping centres based on annual sales per square foot productivity and annual visitor counts, including a focus on year-over-year sales growth at Canada’s most productive 30 shopping centres.

The numbers show that most of Canada’s top centres saw gains in sales per square foot in 2019 when compared to the previous year.

“It’s no secret that the loss of some major retailers was significant for many Canadian malls, with some experiencing a reduction in visitor count and revenue,” says Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “However, landlords in Canada have been proactive and have found dynamic strategies to attract new tenants and keep shoppers coming to the mall.”

Top Shopping Centres in Canada

  • For the fourth year in a row, Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre ranked as the most productive centre in terms of annual sales per square foot. If it sees just a 2% increase in 2020, it will surpass the $2,000 per square foot annually – the new ‘high benchmark’ for shopping centres in Canada.
  • CF Pacific Centre (Vancouver), CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Toronto), Park Royal (West Vancouver) and Southgate Centre (Edmonton) rounded out the top five malls by sales per square foot.
  • Montreal Eaton Centre ranked for the first time in the top 30 malls, with its footprint now exceeding 250,000 square feet.
  • Increasingly, destination entertainment centres and restaurants are being added to existing properties to further drive and enhance the experiential and live community component to brick and mortar malls.
  • Many to of the top centres are planning major additions in the coming 5+ years that will include residential and office spaces.

Busiest Shopping Centres in Canada

Toronto’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre remains the busiest shopping centre in North America with 52.3 million annual visitors in 2019. In comparison, the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu had 52 million visitors and the massive Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis had 40 million.

Not surprisingly, malls in larger metropolitan regions dominate the top 30 list:

  • Greater Toronto Area (10 centres)
  • Vancouver/BC Lower Mainland (6 centres)
  • Greater Montreal (2 centres)
  • Calgary (2 centres)
  • Edmonton (1 centre)
  • Winnipeg (1 centre)
  • Ottawa (1 centre)
  • Quebec City (1 centre)

The cities of Halifax (Nova Scotia), London (Ontario) and Waterloo (Ontario) each have one centre ranking within the top 30.

“The key to success for top-performing Canadian shopping centres is their ability to adapt and promise ever-changing, live experiences that consumers want to be part of,” says Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “Landlords are investing in their shopping centres with impressive renovations and attracting new retail tenants as well as hosting food markets and restaurants and a variety of non-retail amenities such as office spaces, parkland and condos. This kind of commitment has attracted more than 100 international brands to Canadian malls in the last three years.”

The study also provides an in-depth report on the country’s top 10 shopping centres, including an overview of what they offer, what they are doing well, and what is planned for the future in addition to a review of more than 40 major projects across the country that will dramatically transform the Canadian shopping centre landscape over the next 5, 10 and 20+ years.  To download the complete report, please visit: RetailCouncil/org/research/ shopping-centre-study-2019

The 2019 Canadian Shopping Centre Study, sponsored by Engagement Agents, is a feature of the Special Edition of Canadian Retailer: Physical Retail that also discusses other trends in physical retail today.  To download a copy of the Special Edition of Canadian Retailer, please visit:

About Retail Council of Canada

Retail is Canada’s largest employer with 2.1 million Canadians working in our industry. The sector annually generates over $76 billion in wages and employee benefits. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were $377 billion in 2018. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association that represents small, medium and large retail businesses in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants. 

Branka Stavric
Senior Director, Marketing & Communications| 416.467.3772
Retail Council of Canada